Monday, August 23, 2010

Masa's in San Francisco

Masa's San FranciscoMasa's made me wistful. This restaurant was considered the epitome of culinary excellence during its hey days. The story began when Chef Masataka 'Masa' Kobayashi of Auberge du Soleil in California’s Napa Valley was persuaded to headline his own restaurant in San Francisco, utilizing his exceptional talent for French cuisine. His namesake, Masa’s, opened in 1983 and became an instant success. Since his death a series of talented chefs have manned the stoves here. Sadly, the glory seems faded now and certainly not because of the food. I can say that Chef Gregory Short is immensely talented. And yet the restaurant was only sparsely populated on a Friday evening. It could be that formal French dining is no longer in vogue; casual chic seems to be the flavor of the day now.

Masa's is located on the edge of the Union Square and Nob Hill Areas. Walking down from Union Square, I walked through the tunnel before realizing there is a whole town above that is accessed by the stairs going up. Pretty interesting place with steep roads going up and down. The restaurant itself is done up in red and gold which may seem a bit heavy to some, but I liked it - a very classic French feel.

Salmon Amuse at Masa'sI settled for the chef's seven course tasting menu as I nibbled on French breads. They quickly brought me an amuse of salmon, fennel and garlic that was quite interesting.

Caviar at Masa'sThe first course was Black Sea farmed Golden Osetra. The caviar was served on a melon bavarian cream and sharlyn melon gelee, and was exquisite. The crab salad, with summer melon, pickled red jalapeno, baby mizuna was served with brioche toast and was interesting on the palate too.

Crab salad at Masa'sThen came the chilled Maine Lobster with roasted red beets, poached German butterball potatoes, summer truffles, garden mache and beet vinaigrette. Completely delectable! The warm muskiness of the truffle added more than a hint of the exotic to this dish.

Chilled Lobster at Masa'sNext was the sauteed Squab breast. Woohoo, my first pigeon! Yes, my friend, squab is a fancy name for pigeon meat. I was surprised by how nice and succulent the meat was. Apparently, the trick is to serve rare-medium; any more heat dries it up.

Squab at Masa'sMy tongue was already orgasming at this point! Then comes the seared rare medallion of Milbrook farms Venison. The deer was served with a gravenstein apple roesti, a horseradish cream fraiche, apple salad and black peppercorn sauce. The meat was so very soft, tasty and completely amazing.

Venison at Masa'sFinally, came the artisan cheese selection. I picked a cow milk cheese from a French farm, a hard goat cheese from Italy and a very ripe variety made of cow's milk in an Italian farm.

Artisan cheese at Masa's
They gave me a shot glass of fruity sorbet as a palate cleaner before bringing me my dessert. The dessert was a Patterson apricot-almond Pavlova with chamomile apricot, frozen vanilla straus yogurt, creme chantilly and apricot-muscat soup. They brought out a selection of petit-fours as I settled the bill. Whew! That was some dinner.

Fruity palate cleanser at Masa's
Pavlova at Masa's
Petit Fours at Masa'sAfter that perfect dinner, I walked out into a pleasantly cool evening. The neon signs and the skyscapers in the Union Square area were brightly lit all around. This area is a strange mix of the upscale, the touristy and the sleazy: hotels such as the Grand Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton rub shoulders with massage parlours equipped with video cameras and iron grilles. However, this is still a great place to take a leisurely stroll in the evening watching all the people milling around.

1 comment:

Sassy Fork said...

Wow,that was one fantastic meal!